A papaya tree in my backyard was so heavy with fruit; it broke in half, leaving me with 30 or so green papayas all ripening at the same time. This is our second crop of fruit from this tree, and we have learned to eat papaya in many nontraditional ways. We love to eat it while it is still green. It makes a delicious, crunchy addition to salads like in a traditional Thai green papaya salad. I’ve also prepared green papaya stewed like a potato in curry dishes, fried and roasted, like this recipe.
There are varying ripeness levels of a green papaya, each appropriate for different ways of cooking. I’ve found that a very young papaya isn’t ideal for roasting. It lacks any flavor. For this dish, you want the papaya to be green on the outside, with just a touch of yellow near the top. When you slice it open, there should be a faint blush of coral, with the seeds mostly dark grey.
At this stage, the papaya is still firm. When you roast it, the sugars will intensify and the resulting glossy chunks will have a divine taste and texture that is a cross between a peach and a butternut squash. This is nothing like the papaya you know! I can think of a bunch of ways you can use your roasted papaya. Serve it for breakfast with vanilla Greek yogurt, add it in a savory sauce to pair with tropical pork tenderloin or sprinkle it with brown sugar and cinnamon for dessert. I bet it would even be good in a pie!
- 1 medium green papaya (green on the outside, slightly pink on the inside)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Sprinkle of salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
Peel the skin from the papaya and split in half lengthwise. With a spoon, scrape out the seeds and any membrane. Cut the papaya in slices 1-inch thick, or 1-inch cubes. Arrange in a single layer on a backing sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Toss to coat.
Roast for approximately 20 minutes, until papaya is tender and lightly browned.